Terrorism has ideology, Islamic Jihad

Fighting terrorism must be seen as warfare and not just a law enforcement problem. It calls for unconventional methods and cannot be handled by the police and law enforcement agencies. Platitudes like terrorism has no religion are false. Jihad is the ideology of terror, given religious colour.

Navaratna Rajaram

Understanding terrorism in the name of god

There is new publication (see above) that explains Pakistan’s ideology and modus operandi. 

The recent attack by the Pakistan-sponsored Islamist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed leading to the death of 40 Indian troops shows that the world has made little progress in defeating terrorism in the nearly twenty years since the 9/11 attacks in New York followed by others in Mumbai, London, Paris and other places.

The problem is two-fold. First, the large supply of terrorists sponsored by the failed state of Pakistan, and the reluctance of the rest of the world to see Islam for what it is- an aggressive imperial ideology masquerading as religion. As a reason, even its victims are unwilling to criticize its beliefs, under the misguided notion of hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims. This has allowed terrorists and their sponsors to hide behind the holy mask of religion.

It is time to remove this mask and show its true brutal face. We must face the truth that there is no soft way of fighting terrorism. As the Indian thinker Chanakya (4th C BCE) put it, brutal methods can only be defeated by ruthless means.

This we must first understand the nature of the challenge before us.

The goal of Islamic terrorists is to overthrow the government and replace it with a state ruled by shariah. To this end jihadis are carrying out terror attacks on both sides of the border with the goal of eventually reducing the victims into a state of terror. This is true in Kashmir as well as places like Syria, under the grip of ISIS.

Unlike other wars that are fought for material gains like territory, the strategy of jihad is to induce terror. This is made clear in the book, The Quranic Concept of War, written by Pakistani Brigadier SK Malik and sponsored by the Gen Zia-ul-Haq. It is a serious error to see this as a law-and-order problem to be dealt with by the police. It is to Islamists what Hitler’s Mein Kampf was to the Nazis, but more sinister because of its religious cloak.

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, there was a workshop of security experts in Washington DC on how to fight terrorism. Among its conclusions, two things stood out: Terrorists are not lawbreakers but soldiers driven by an ideology who need to be seen as enemy soldiers in a war; and, we need to monitor how they think and move — this calls for high level of intelligence apparatus and constant vigil. Terrorists prefer to avoid fighting soldiers and choose soft targets like schools, hospitals, churches, temples and the like. The goal is to induce long-lasting terror amongs the victims.

Finally, as in every war there will be loss of innocent lives; terrorists target innocents, and security forces too may kill innocent people by mistake. We must accept such losses if we want to defeat the enemy. The point was and still is — don’t expect the regular police and other law enforcement agencies to fight and control terrorism, though their help is certainly needed. This also means, as in the case of any war, there will be casualties involving innocent people. We must avoid it to the extent possible and compensate the victims, but not demoralise those fighting terrorists because it is a tough job and also a thankless one. No one thanks you when you stop an attack, but people are ready to blame you if you cause a mishap.

At the same time, victims of terrorist attacks will always be innocent people. The idea of terrorists is that with such random killings at unexpected locations — at place and time of their choosing — they can create a climate of fear. Unfortunately, India does not take terrorism — or even national security — with the seriousness it deserves. Worse, there are people, including those in responsible positions, who engage in flight from reality and indulge in diversionary tactics.

Who can forget Indian leader Rahul Gandhi surreptitiously telling former US Ambassador Timothy Roemer that Hindu extremist organisations are a greater threat to security than lashkar-e-Tayyeba. This is cowardice which terrorists want to induce in everyone.

Another recent instance of such obfuscation was the statement by India’s former Defense Minister AK Antony following the Pakistani attack on Indian positions on the border. He claimed that some militants dressed in Pakistan military uniform attacked Indian positions. What was gained by this crude whitewashing?

Pakistan’s Mein Kampf

Fortunately, we have a lucid explanation of jihad and terrorism by Gen Zia-ul-Haq. He clearly said that jihad was an all-out war waged to create terror. He sponsored one Brig Malik to produce an authoritative military manual on jihad called The Quranic Concept of War. Here Brig Malik writes, “The Holy Prophet’s operations… are an integral and inseparable part of the divine message revealed to us in the Holy Quran… The war he planned and carried out was total to the infinite degree. It was waged on all fronts: Internal and external, political and diplomatic, spiritual and psychological, economic and military.”

This is total war, and confessedly, religion is just a cover. But the world seems to have swallowed it.

Another point made by the author is that the war should be carried out in the opponent’s territory. “The aggressor was always met and destroyed in his own territory.” The ‘aggressor’ here is anyone who stands in the way of jihad, even when defending his own land! It doesn’t stop here, as Brig Malik assures us: “Terror struck into the hearts of the enemy is not only a means, it is the end in itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponent’s heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved… Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose upon him.”

That is to say that these attacks are meant to induce terror in the heart and minds of people — make them live in a state of perpetual terror. We should be grateful to Brig Malik and Gen Zia for spelling it out with such clarity. There should be no denial or obfuscation.

Though little known in the West, The Quranic Concept of War is widely studied in Islamic countries. It has been translated into several languages, including Arabic and Urdu (the official language of Pakistan). Indian soldiers have recovered Urdu versions of the book from the bodies of slain militants in Jammu & Kashmir. It is no coincidence that the trail of terrorism today should lead to Gen Zia. By making jihad the centrepiece of Pakistan’s politics he ensured that jihadi thinking would dominate all aspects of Pakistani politics in both domestic and foreign affairs.

Jihad allowed imperial expansion

As the late Anwar Shaik (a lapsed Muslim) pointed out, Islam is nothing but Arab nationalism turned imperialism. Jihad is its tactical tool. There is nothing spiritual about it, though some sophists, both Muslim and deluded Islam apologists claim Jihad entail struggle against one’s own negative instincts. Even if true, which is doubtful, the terrorists worldwide are not seeking any spiritual solace but engaged purely in secular terrorist activities.

The magum opus on Jihad that explains its scope and role in the history of the expansion of Islam is The Legacy of Jihad by Andrew Bostom. (See left)

Defeating terrorism: unconventional means

            Once we recognize terrorism as unconventional warfare, we have to device effective methods for defeating it, using unconventional methods as needed, for as Krishna pointed out thousands of years ago, devious enemies call for unusual methods. (Krishna calls it maya). We need to locate their weaknesses.

In the case of Pakistan, it is economic. Most Muslim rulers lived on plunder, and evolved no productive enterprises. Pakistan is no different, especially the army which now rules the country. It has no worthwhile economic activity, so will have trouble recovering from heavy economic damage. This is its Achilles Heel.

This suggests instead of just killing people alone, which has no end, India should attack targets of economic value, like dams, power plants, fuel storages, key bridges and the like. These will have a major impact on its economy and its leaders will be forced to divert the country’s scant resources to rebuild its infrastructure.